A FITNESS tool backed by the NHS has been adopted by thousands of people in the West Midlands seeking to get in shape during lockdown.
New figures show that downloads of Public Health England’s ‘Couch to 5k’ app skyrocketed over the last three months.
From March to the end of June, there were almost 1million downloads nationally – 858,000 compared to 448,000 during the same time last year – a 92 per cent increase compared to 2019.
Couch to 5k is a running plan for beginners provided by Public Health England, helping those who are unfit or do not regularly take exercise to take positive steps for their health and fitness.
Designed for people who have done little or no running, the app provides guided commentary from a coach and easily helps users to track progress, with getting three runs per week.
Recent studies have shown that there is a clear link between covid and obesity with overweight and obese people making up six in ten Covid-19 deaths in the UK.
Already used by millions across the country to kickstart running since it launched, NHS leaders have said the Couch to 5k programme and other fitness apps could aid even more people to lead healthier lifestyles.
More than two thirds of people in England are overweight or obese with 876,000 hospital admissions last year related to obesity – an increase of almost a quarter compared to the year before.
The news comes ahead of the anniversary this weekend of the foundation of the NHS, which will be marked by events across the country.
Nigel Sturrock, medical director at NHS England and NHS Improvement in the Midlands said: “Lockdown has been challenging for us all but it’s hugely positive to see so many people using this opportunity to get more active and using Public Health England’s app, part of its Couch to 5k campaign. Keeping active is not only good for our physical health but also crucially at this time helping us look after our mental health. And staying fit and healthy means we’re also playing our part in supporting the NHS.”
Recent data from EE also found other fitness apps had surges during lockdown with MapMyRun usage doubling and three times as many people using Strava, while over one million people in the UK bought a bike during lockdown.